My friend and colleague, John Taylor, wins the 'Behind the Orange Curtain" award for this blog posted yesterday in response to the news that Rick Warren, the purpose-driven-America's-Pastor-wannabe, is now offering "sanctuary" to the former Episcopalians who've lost their fight to leave the Episcopal Church and take our property with them.
If you don't know John, you should. You can read more about him here ... but key bio material includes "The Reverend John H. Taylor is the former post-Chief of Staff to Richard Nixon, former President of the United States, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation."
So here ... fresh from Behind the Orange Curtain (AKA Orange County CA) is:
Nobody Steps On A Church In My Town * by John Taylor
It's often been a blessing to have Pastor Rick Warren's mammoth Saddleback Church in our backyard at St. John's in Rancho Santa Margarita, about two miles south of Warren's digs. His ministry gives inspiration and comfort to tens of thousands in our community and millions around the world. He brings the gospel alive in practical ways to help people live better, more faithful lives.
But now he's offered to help dissident Episcopalians plant a church in our neighborhood. Thanks a lot, dear colleague!
In the wake of Monday's ruling by the California Supreme Court under which three churches which tried to leave our Diocese may soon have to return their buildings and other properties, Warren wrote,
We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.
As the orthodox pastor of the closest Episcopal church to Saddleback, I'll try not to take it personally. Still, if any of the 20 million Baptists who aren't especially taken with Pastor Rick's conservative Southern Baptist Convention want to plant a church in his backyard, I'll happily talk to the St. John's Bishop's Committee about using our choir room to start Saddleback South. We could only seat about 20, compared to Pastor Rick's 50,000 Christmas Eve worshipers, but all good things start small.
Among dissidents' problems with Mr. Warren's Southern Baptists is this carefully worded policy statement from the Convention's web site:
Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact.
While Scripture teaches that a woman's role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.
That's right: Pastor Rick and his colleagues believe Jesus Christ didn't want women to be pastors. The policy is one reason former President Jimmy Carter resigned from the Convention in 2000. With us Episcopalians and many other denominations, the seeming crisis is over the sacramental status of gay and lesbian people. But an even more important problem is that many Christians haven't even come to terms with the radical equality of women in the body of Christ.
In the early church, women played a prominent role in all aspects of ministry. After all, the "apostle to the apostles" wasn't Peter, James, or Paul, or indeed Tom, Dick, or Harry. All four gospels agree (in other words, "scripture teaches") that Mary Magdalene first received the good news of our Lord's Resurrection. She believed, while Jesus's male followers (who had fled in fear after the Crucifixion) at first did not.
And yet in the 21st century, powerful Christian leaders still keep Mary's half of the population down. I can well understand why they prefer to talk instead about the 2-3% of the population who are homosexual. Safer odds.
* Name that movie!